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Applied Theatre

Bewilderment and Beyond

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James Thompson

Applied Theatre: Bewilderment and Beyond explores the practice of theatre in communities and social institutions with marginalised groups. It shifts between contexts and countries to examine different ways that theatre has been applied to a wide range of social issues. Theatre projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom are analysed to argue for a complex and questioning view of the practice. Initiatives in prisons, developing countries, war situations and participatory research projects become the sites to interrogate the claims that applied theatre can be a theatre for social change.
Many practitioners and researchers have witnessed powerful applied theatre projects but nonetheless struggled to articulate the reasons for the projects’ success. This book uses the questions inspired by that perplexity to create a case for applied theatre as a major area of contemporary theatre practice.

«It’s a pleasure to review a book, which also turns out to be so personally useful […] a provocative and fascinating read.» (Prof. Jonothan Neelands, Research in Drama Education)
«This is a theoretically complex account that […] lays stress on the crucial role of facilitators in welcoming difficulty and complexity whilst offering participants and colleagues creative development with containment, support and ethical awareness. Necessary reading.» (Frances Rifkin, practitioner, Artistic Director of Utopia Arts and author of ‘The Ethics of Participatory Theatre in Higher Education’, 2010)
«Interesting, thought provoking and deeply inspiring, Thompson’s book unravels the most fundamental concerns of practising theatre in non-theatre contexts. His personal reflections provide essential insights into the world of applied theatre, its challenges, its controversies and even its beauty. This book is a key resource for anyone interested in applied theatre.» (Dr Zoe Zontou, Teaching Fellow, Liverpool Hope University)